Times Leader Arts & Entertainment

Reader seeks help in identifying old photograph

November 29, 1998

A comprehensive guide to genealogy sites

Some local reader could well hold the key to the mystery posed by a photograph that turned up in Wales.

Stuart Price of South Wales, United Kingdom, forwarded a copy of an old photo given to him by a relative and asked if anyone here knows anything about the people in it or where it came from. The photo is reprinted at the end of this column.

The style of dress of the man and woman in the grainy, sepia-toned photo places it in the 19th century. On the back of the original, Price writes, is the name "Margaret Farr," as well as that of the photographer, the Lee Stearns photo studio of Wilkes-Barre.

A quick check of the Wilkes-Barre City Directory shows people named Farr having lived in various towns of Wyoming Valley through the 19th century and most of the 20th century. One Margaret Farr is listed as having lived in Wilkes-Barre in the 1930s. No one named Farr is in the latest edition of the Wyoming Valley telephone directory or the latest edition of the Wilkes-Barre City Directory.

City directories show a Lee Stearns photo studio in the city for many years, but with some name alterations. It was last listed on North Main Street in the 1950s. Times Leader files contain nothing on what might have happened to the studio.

"The photo came from an album, one of three which came down to me from my aunt," Price writes. "The albums are about one hundred years old; one is dated 1895."

Other photos in the album are of no help in analyzing the Wilkes-Barre picture, Price says, because they were all taken in various parts of South Wales.

Could Stuart Price have unknown family here in Wyoming Valley? Could the photo derive from relatives keeping in contact after the days of 19th-century emigration?

If any of you out there have a line on Margaret Farr or the studio that took the photo, please write to me at the address at the end of the column. I'll forward any information I get to Stuart Price over in Wales.

Tips: Wondering if there's a newspaper with a genealogy column anywhere in the area where you are doing your research?

I've obtained a copy of "Directory of Newspaper Genealogy Columns," by Anita C. Milner. It lists hundreds of genealogy columns, state by state, in newspapers throughout America.

Write to me, including a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and I'll let you know if there's a column being published in or near your research area. Be warned, though, that some states have few papers with genealogy columns.

Searching: Can anyone help this reader?

  • Rich Fiegelman of Dallas is seeking information on his birth mother, Joyce McKeown, a resident of Philadelphia at the time of his birth there in 1957. He believes she might have had a Wyoming Valley connection.

    News notes: Having trouble getting information on a Civil War ancestor? The Wyoming Valley Civil War Round Table, a local chapter of a national group, might be able to help you. Write to the organization at P.O. Box 613, Dallas, Pa. 18612.

    Better still, if you are researching that era, join up. The Civil War Round Table offers monthly meetings at which members offer research tips and share historical materials. Memberships are $12 a year for an individual and $18 for a couple. Incidentally, the Round Table group also does cemetery cleanups and restorations -- a very worthy endeavor.

  • Minnesota resident David W. Dole reports that he's had some success in getting newspapers to accept his Publishers' Genealogical Coding Service. This is a system by which, for a one-time fee, a newspaper is assigned an obituary code that is placed in small type at the end of each obituary to indicate the paper's location and name as well as the date the obituary ran.

    Dole's goal is to get every newspaper in America to subscribe to his service so that future genealogists will be able to work with obits that contain vital publication data right at the end of the text.

  • Have you solved some tough genealogical problems in your research? Do you have some tips you'd like to share with others? Would you like to report a success story? Drop me a line here at the paper. I'll get in touch with you and help you bring the benefits of your experience to others.

    Tom Mooney, The Times Leader, 15 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18711

    © 1998 The Times Leader

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